Thursday, December 24, 2009

New twist on an old command

John 13:34-35
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

The commandment to love one another was not new. Moses commanded Israel, "Love your neighbor as yourself" in Leviticus 19:18. Jesus affirmed this command and declared that it was the second greatest command in Mark 12:31. So what was so new about what Jesus was saying?
Jesus command took love to a whole new level. The old standard was to love others as one's self. The new standard as to love as Jesus loved.
Looking back, they disciples would have immediately thought of Jesus act of humility, serving them through foot-washing. Looking forward, Jesus was also pointing to His love displayed on the cross through His sacrifice. These are the marks of true discipleship; service and sacrifice. The world will know that we belong to Jesus by these signs of love.
So how an I doing at loving others through service and sacrifice? Do people know that I am a follower of Jesus by my humility, service and sacrifice or simply by my job title? Do others see Jesus in and through me or simply around me? What could I do today (every day for that matter) to demonstrate this type of love to my family, friends, coworkers and even the strangers that I cross paths with?

Father - teach me to love others the way that You have loved me. Teach me to overlook faults and flaws as you have overlooked mine. Teach me to serve and sacrifice with no regard for myself. Let others see You in and through me. Teach me to Love. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Audience of One... Glory to God

John 12:42-43
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Could this be said of me?
Do I shy away from sharing Christ and the Good News of the Gospel with my neighbors, friends and family because I am more concerned with their opinion of me than my Savior's? Am I more concerned with reputation than righteousness? Do I take the path of least resistance rather than the path of greatest Glory (Jn. 12:27-28)? If I truly love Jesus and count myself as His I must follow and be found where He is (Jn. 12:25-26). I must love Jesus more than my own life, my reputation, my comfort. I must live for an audience of One and bring Him glory alone.

Father - humble me and hunger me for Your glory. Teach me to hold loosely to the things of this life and strive for things that are eternal. May my lie bring You glory alone. Amen.

John 12:25-28
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Emotional Jesus

John 11:33
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
John 11:35
Jesus wept.
John 11:36
Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
John 11:38
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.
John 11:43
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

Jesus was not a cold, methodical, stoic leader absent of emotion. He was not a man so focused on the ultimate will and plan of the Father that He missed the significance and weight of each step along the way. He was not so divine that His humanity could not be seen... or perhaps even held back. He was moved and troubled. He groaned. He wept. He loved. He cried out.
So what was all that emotion about?
I like to believe it was a combination of three things in the past, present and future.
Jesus wept because he understood the consequences of sin and the pain it brought. The situation He faced in Bethany was not as it was supposed to be.
Presently, Jesus wept at the loss of His friends. While He knew that Lazarus would soon return to life, He identified with the separation that sin and death brought. At that very moment He was separated from His Father (a temporary death) for their sake. Similarly, perhaps He wept because He knew how incomparable the paradise is that He was about to pull Lazarus back from. Perhaps He wept because He fully identified with Lazarus' return trip away from the Father.
Finally, I believe as Jesus stood at the tomb staring down the cave and the stone, He saw His future. There at the grave of Lazarus His destiny became more humanly real than any time before. This was not only the Father's will for their sake, that they may believe, but also for His sake that He may be prepared to take the same journey. As He was trusted to raise Lazarus from the dead, He would have to trust His Father to raise Him from the dead.
No matter the source of Jesus' emotion, it is undeniable that Jesus truly identified with us. I love the words of Hebrews 4:14-16, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Thank You Jesus for identifying fully with our humanity... that we may one day identify fully with Your deity. Amen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Whose voice are you listening to?

John 10:4-5
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Whose voice are you listening to? If I am His, If I belong to Jesus, I will hear and recognize His voice above all others and will follow Him. If I follow another voice, if I follow temptation and sin, I must question, "to whom do I belong?" Whichever voice I follow is my master, my shepherd. Jesus is the "Good Shepherd" who leads to abundant life. All other voices are thieves who come to steal and kill.
As one of Jesus' sheep, I must stay close to the shepherd and train my ears to hear His voice only. I do this by reading His Word regularly, by meditation and worship that focuses on His Word, by prayer and listening for His Holy Spirit, and by fellowship with other sheep who also know and follow His voice. To ignore these disciplines is to risk following another voice.

Father - sharpen my ears to hear Your voice only. Keep me close and help me to follow You. Amen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Has God changed you?...

John 9:25
He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

Notice the blind man's approach to spiritual issues. When the Jewish rulers challenge his belief that Jesus is a prophet, he does not argue or debate or get sucked into a long exasperating theological discussion. The man born blind simply states the obvious change that Jesus worked in his life; "I was blind, now I see." There is no debating life-change. From that point on it was up to each listener to decide what to do with this Jesus.
When it comes to sharing my faith, do I have life-change that I can point to? Has Jesus been working in and on me? If so, then my story is sufficient enough to share; regardless of my biblical knowledge or theological foundation. If not, then no amount of biblical or theological knowledge will ever challenge anyone to see Jesus differently. If He has not worked His work in me first, others will not follow.

Lord - continue Your work in me. Open my eyes and help me see where You want to work in me, where you want to change me. Give me the faith and courage to obey and wash myself clean like the blind man. Write in me a story of life-change that inspires others. Amen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who is Jesus?

John 8:5-59
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Some say that Jesus was a good man and a good teacher but never himself claimed to be God. However here in John 8, Jesus uses the phrase "I AM" twelve times! This is a reference to God as He revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Horeb at the burning bush in Exodus 3 (specifically verse 14). It's clear from the crowds reaction that they finally understood whom Jesus claimed to be.
It is this claim that prevents us from believing that Jesus is simply a good man or a good teacher. Good men and good teachers so not make such absurd claims. Either Jesus is not God and therefore not good; or He is God... and more.
So how do you respond to Jesus claim? Will you pick up stones along with the crowd?... or will you believe?
On another note...
Isn't it funny how John 8 begins and ends with an angry crowd desiring to stone someone? It begins with Jesus inviting "him who has no sin to throw the first stone" and results in the crowds departure. It ends with Jesus claim of divinity and results in Jesus departure. How how deaf and dull we can be.

Lord - let me hear your voice, receive your Word and abide in You. Let me walk away from sin and set down my stones. Let me live in light of Your eternity. Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How do you see Jesus?

John 7:40-43
Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”
Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
So there was a division among the people because of Him.

There are three types of people identified in this passage.
There are those who are on a faith journey to understand who Jesus is. These people see Him as a prophet. They see a bunch but have not completed their journey. They are in process.
There are those who have come to the conclusion of their faith journey and after searching out both the Scriptures and the person of Jesus have concluded that He is who He claims to be, "the Christ."
Then there are those who refuse to examine the person of Jesus. Tragically, they know the Scriptures but are blind to the Savior. They know just enough Scripture or theology to justify their doubts and questions but never actually seek the answers or explanations. Their doubts and questions prevent them, even blind them, from seeing Jesus true nature and identity. Whether out of pride, arrogance, comfort, apathy, fear or something else, these people simply refused to take a closer look at Jesus.
Ironically, many of these are those who in verses 12 & 14 who claimed Jesus to be "good" and "marveled" at His knowledge of the Law. Jesus cannot be both good and who He claimed to be. Good men do not lie and deceive people... and neither did Jesus. He is who He claimed to be.
(Did you know that Jesus used the phrase "I AM" 52 times in the book of John alone? John was demonstrating who Jesus claimed to be. Check out John 18:5-6. There is no doubt that each time Jesus says "I AM" He's revealing his true nature. He does this four times in chapter 7 alone! No wonder the crowds were angry and debated His identity!)

So, where are you in this faith journey? Are you willing to look closer at Jesus? Are you willing to set aside your religious knowledge, tradition, pride, comfort, questions and doubts and truly examine this Jesus? He's more than good, He's more than a prophet... He is.

Monday, December 14, 2009


John 6:35
"And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."

In as season and holiday that has become all about hunger, greed, extravagance and self, I'm compelled to ask what really satisfies? How long until the shine of Christmas morning materialism last? The stuff we give and receive this month will all be old and unfulfilling by next. The gadgets and gizmos will soon be replaced by bigger (or smaller) and better ones. The games we play will get old and boring. The movies and music will become familiar. The clothes will become worn and faded. How long does satisfaction last these days? - shorter and shorter each year.
So what does it mean to be satisfied, filled and fulfilled with Jesus? - not just at Christmas time but every day of the year? Does my understanding of and intimacy with Jesus make me so content that I do not huger for earthly things? Is Jesus my greatest desire? Do I turn to Him, feed on Him, when life gets difficult... or even when it's not? Is He my steady diet through prayer, meditation, Scripture, worship and service so that I am not tempted by earthly substitutes?
Am I satisfied with Jesus?
If not...have I truly tasted of His goodness?
Have I truly understood His promise to satisfy?

Jesus - let me be satisfied with You. Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Security in Christ

John 5:24
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

The timing and tense of the verbs in this passage are interesting and inspiring. In the present, we are called to "hear" and to "believe." Receiving the Son in full faith from the Father sets a mark in the time line of our existence. From that moment on we have already passed from death to life, we have already been fully redeemed. Our status has been permanently changed from condemned to forgiven. As Jesus said Himself in John 3:17-18, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. There is no process to unfold, no journey to take, no status to strive for; this is the gift of God - eternal life. And this gift is irrevocable, (Rom. 11:29).
Therefore, though our present faith in the past work of Christ on the cross, we shall not come into judgment in the future. This security and certainty is only possible if our faith is fully in Christ and His work on the cross on our behalf. By this faith I may enjoy freedom in Christ and confidence in my current condition. I can enjoy each day of my life knowing that at this present time I already stand fully and securely in the hand of God. What a glorious and gracious God we have!

Father - teach me to live and strengthen me to live every day in light of this glorious gift. Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jesus and the Holy Spirit (2)

John 4:4
"But He (Jesus) needed to go through Samaria."

John says that Jesus "needed" to go through the scorned and avoided region of Samaria. He didn't choose to or accidentally enter where no righteous or pious Jew would go... He was compelled to go there.
I believe it was the Holy Spirit that compelled Him to cross these cultural and racial barriers to offer living water to a people He also loved. As Paul said in 1 Cor. 9:16, "for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" Jesus knew He needed to begin His ministry to Samaria and I believe He understood what the results of such obedience would be.
In John 4 we see the Samaritan woman move from seeing Jesus as "great" (v. 12) to a "prophet" (v. 19) to the "messiah" (v. 25). The townspeople then complete His identity by declaring Him to be "the Savior of the world" (v. 42)... Samaritan too, even gentiles!
This is the result of listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit; we will boldly break through barriers and by our love and truth inspire belief in those who are lost and hurting.

Am I compelled? Do I listen for the Holy Spirit enough to be drawn to such a need? Am I listening enough to be part of such an impact as Jesus made in just a few hours at an isolated well with a lonely, hurting woman? If I'm not listening for these small yet divine appointments I will miss out on being part of what God is doing as He faithfully saves the world.

Lord - help me to listen to and obey Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

John 3:34
For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.

It seems that John is teaching here that Jesus' words are from God and that the Holy Spirit is the deliverer of God's message. God's message did not originate in Jesus but in His Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit. This is another way that Jesus full humanity was fully expressed.
The lesson is that like us, Jesus had to listen for and to the Holy Spirit in order to receive God's will and direction for His life and ministry.

Check out these examples....
  1. Luke 2:27
    Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
  2. Luke 4:1
    Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
  3. Luke 4:14
    Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
That means that Jesus was not simply setting an example for us when He got alone with God, prayed or got still in the garden. He too was listening to, waiting for, depending on the Holy Spirit. In other words, we can follow His example and pattern for listening.

Jesus, teach me to wait for, listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. Teach me to follow Jesus example of being still, quiet and alone with the Father. Sharpen my ears and soften my heart to hear and receive what You say. Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


John 2:11,22,23
This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.

John uses the word "believe" (Pisteuo in the Greek) or a form of it 86 times in his gospel. It is used 19 times in just the first four chapters! John 2 gives three tangible examples of how belief comes about. In verse 11 the disciples believe based on his WONDERS. He reveals His glory to them through His nature and person. Over 7 days or so Jesus' identity oozes out and their friendship is turned to faith. Later, in verse 22, the disciples believe based on the WORD of God. They recall the Old Testament prophesies and realize that Jesus is the fulfillment of these. Finally, the crowds in Jerusalem believed based on His WORKS and the man miracles of healing and life-change He performed.
The lesson here is that there are many paths of faith but all paths must converge in belief in Jesus Christ. He is the only doorway to salvation (John 1:7 & 12).

Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself through Your wonders, Your Word and Your works. Deepen my faith and strengthen my belief in You. Help me reveal Your nature to others that they too may beleive in You. Amen.